Friday, June 1, 2012
I didn't do any plowing (much less ploughing) this morning, but I did haul a couple of loads of stuff to the sheds (still unpacking and organizing here), set up the compost bin, did some soil mining (digging topsoil from the pasture to fill planters and raised beds), and planted a washbucket full of herbs (chervil, basil, thyme, parsley) on the deck, so I was feeling pretty accomplished, and very hungry. I felt I had earned a ploughman's lunch.
Some leftover biscuits (Mary's delectable handywork) I set to warm in the solar oven (Mary also made that, at a Hay River Transition Initiative workshop a couple weeks ago). Sliced some lovely aged cheddar and threw down a few curds. Spooned up a newly minted salsa composed of pickled rhubarb, pickled ramps, and dried apple. I was thinking of this as a chutney originally, but since it's entirely uncooked, I think salsa, or maybe relish, is the more apt term. Here's how that came together:
1/2 cup chopped dried apples
3 pickled ramp bulbs and
1/4 cup pickled rhubarb, both chopped small
1 tablespoon of the ramp brine
1/2 tablespoon of the rhubarb brine
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
Mix all let sit and few hours or overnight.
A glass of our home-fermented cider was de rigeur. This was actually cold-fermented cider, which is to say: it was simply fresh apple cider that hung around in the fridge long enough to ferment, turn slightly fizzy and a bit alcoholic. That's how simple cider making can be. If you want to try this yourself, just be sure to check on your fermenting cider occasionally and take off the cap to release excess pressure. This makes a really refreshing beverage provided you've started with excellent, unpasteurized cider free of preservatives.
I think that pickles fall into roughly two categories, in terms of how they are used: there are those meant to be eaten as is, such as bread & butters, sour dills, watermelon pickles, etc.; and there are those that are most valuable as ingredients in other dishes. Some pickles--cornichons, for example--go both ways. The rhubarb and ramp pickles definitely fall into the second category. I can't see myself going to the fridge to grab a snack of a ramp bulb or rhubarb stick, but they'll be great to have on hand to add zip and flavor to dressings, potato salads, sauces and relishes.
Right. That was really good. Now, where did I put my plough?
Text and photos copyright 2012 by Brett Laidlaw